What I learned from HP about co-opetition

What I learned from HP about co-opetition

We like competition. We thrive on it. We pit our children against eachother in near prehistoric rites of manhood called “Little League”. In all honesty without competition I doubt the human race would exist.

But what do we do when competiton doesn’t work anymore and we are driven to co-opetition?

HP (like most uber big companies) is complicated. Who doesn’t HP compete with? In the IT space there are very few companies that they don’t compete with on some level. While simultaneously there are very few of those competing companies that we don’t also partner with at some level. It’s very complicated.

As an example, my Samsung BlackJack 2. HP competes very heavily with Samsung on both PC’s, printers and phones (yes HP makes phones). After taking my first picture with my phone I was presented with three options: Send Multimedia Msg, Send to HP’s Snapfish and Cancel.

I was amazed that a company we competed so heavily with enabled their customers to send photo’s to the HP owned Snapfish. Snapfish had obviously worked their own deal with Samsung.

HP has always had a strong belief that each business unit was enabled to do whatever it took to grow that business, even if it meant working with a company that HP competed with. This is often referred to as co-opetition

Arguably one of the most profitable examples of co-opetitions is the HP LaserJet printer.  The LaserJet printer is HP’s most profitable product to date and was co-developed with one of HP’s biggest competitors; Canon. Canon still manufactures the engines.

Social media is all about sharing right? What about your competition? Aren’t you supposed to crush them? We all know this, but let me tell you something, competition is good.

What would PC’s be like if Apple didn’t exist? They’d probably be ugly, big and hard to use.

What does this mean to social media professionals? I’ve had an ongoing friendly relationship with Bruce Eric at Dell (one of the few companies we compete most fiercely with and don’t partner with).  While we’ve talked about family, life, travel, Web tools and social media we’ve never talked about Dell and/or HP.

While social media means we get to be human and share, you have to know what’s appropriate and what’s not. We were still competitors after all. At one point I was even invited to contribute to the Digital Nomads blog but declined because while I’m happy to support a cause I wasn’t willing to contribute to a site that was pushing competitive product.

Now that I work at Waggener Edstrom I find myself  “competing” with friends I’ve worked with at Porter Novelli (PN is an HP agency). I also find myself “competing” with people I respect and have learned a great deal from. But the fact of the matter is I don’t see myself as competing against them even if ouor companies are competitors.

Mike Manuel just posted
about how agencies (who all now do social media) are being asked to work with eachother by clients. This happened before the rise of social media but it’s almost becoming more common than not.

I for one welcome this. If you think you and your agency know more than any other individual or agency out there you are in for a rude awakening.

As with social media companies (especially agencies to begin with) need to embrace co-opetition. I garuntee you that your business will be far more profitable if you can manage this.

Even if you or your company culture isn’t ready for this (very few outside of tech are right now) you need to at least head the advice given by Mark Solon, managing partner at Highway 12 Ventures and respect your competition.

If you really want to know where this trend will lead I suggest you check out Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape by Henry Chesbrough. This is just the begining.

As a prelude to a forthcoming blog post I also believe this is another factor in why large enterprise companies are on their way out.

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Where are the lunch lady blogs?

Where are the lunch lady blogs?

Often when I speak I like to pose this scenario:

Imagine that you are on a flight home and you get upgraded to first class. Now imagine that you end up sitting next to the CEO of a big company that’s based in your home town. That company has recently missed their numbers and analysts are speculating what’s going on inside the company and what they’re going to do about it.  As you’re chatting it up with said CEO you ask him how things are going with the company and he tells you, what you think is a reasonable answer.

After your trip you attend your child’s soccer game and there on the sidelines is the lunch lady for the company who’s CEO you just shared a flight with. As you’re chatting it up with said lunch lady you ask her how things are going and she tells you a completely different answer than the CEO.

Who do you believe?

One thing that we’ve learned about why social media is that we all trust “people like me.”  Whenever I give this scenario and ask the question I have NEVER had anyone pick the CEO and I’ve even posed this question to a room full of CEO’s.

There are so many companies that are doing great things with social media right now but we haven’t taken it far enough. We’ve enabled our marketing teams, key communication groups and our engineers and product developers but we have not yet pushed social media all the way through the company.

We will have finally reached truly social businesses when we let the lunch lady blog.

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Where are all the good long tail blogs

Where are all the good long tail blogs?

blogger license plate on my mazda 3
Image by Tac Anderson via Flickr

I love blogs. I love blogging. Hell, my license plate even says BLOGGER (pretty sure I won’t be able to score than one when I move to Seattle).

My biggest complaint is finding fresh new voices with fresh new ideas. Marketing and Tech blogs have been around just as long as blogging itself. There are no shortage of blogs on these topics. We all read the top blogs. Everyone shares the same links to the same blogs (unless it’s your own).

Where’s the promise of the Long Tail in the blogosphere?

Despite the rise in in the number of tech and marketing blogs it becomes even harder to find original ideas. Most bloggers just mimic and point to the top blogs that we all read. We all do this sometimes and we usually throw in some additional commentary and add our own take on an idea. I just find it that with more people talking we’re all saying the same thing.

I try to not just add to the noise and I know I could be doing a better job.

I have found some good blogs lately by going through my Twitter followers and clicking through to their site. This is very, very time consuming. I wish someone would develop a recommendation engine like Pandora for blogs.

Louis Gray used to does a monthly ‘5 blogs to check out‘ post but he hasn’t done one this year. (see comments for current posts)

Setting up alerts in Google, searches in Twitter and filters in FriendFeed can help find new voices but, again, this is a very manual process.

Ironically I often find new bloggers while writing my blog posts. I use Zemanta and while I’m writing they use semantic data to recommend related posts. It would be great if they had a standalone service where you could enter a blog and find similar posts.

This is only going to become a bigger problem as blogs continue to take over the main stream and more verticals other than tech and marketing are effected (I couldn’t imagine trying to find good mommy blogs).

If anyone knows of such a service please let me know.
If anyone is working on such a service please let me be a beta tester.

Do you have any tips for finding new relevant blogs?

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The only thing you should be doing

I originally wrote this post several months ago and it’s taken me this long to remove the excess emotion and get it to a point I thought it was ready to post. I still don’t know if it’s ready but I feel it needs to be said.

The only thing you should be doing

I don’t care if you hate your job! I don’t care if you lost your job!

I don’t care if the stock market drops to 60! (Probably should but I don’t)

I really don’t care what some reporter thinks of the market. (I quit watching the news)

I only care about what YOU & I are going to do about it! (Because let me tell you a secret, we are the only ones that can fix this mess.)

The only thing you can do is shut up and innovate. If whining about it makes you feel better then fine. Whine, but keep it to yourself and when you’re done get back to innovating.

Your new job is to innovate in *every* aspect of your life. Don’t do things better (because the things we’ve been doing don’t work anymore) do them differently.

Unemployed? Innovate in your desired field and create a company that employs others.

Still employed? Don’t put your head down and do your job better because better isn’t enough.

Don’t wait for your boss to give you permission. Innovate now!

Don’t wait for the budget (there is none). Innovation is free.

Have the next great idea but don’t have the time? Innovate around time management.

Have the next great idea but don’t have the money? Innovate how to do it with little/no money. (You don’t even have to innovate there lots of people have done it before.)

If at any point you read something in this post that made you think about how this didn’t apply to you or because you have some special circumstance, you can’t be innovative, start over from the top and read it slower this time.

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Layoffs help the Internet economy

Layoffs help the Internet economy

Why are Facebook and Twitter exploding right now?

MIAMI - MARCH 27:  Gregory Tai, who lost his j...

Two reasons:

  1. They’re really cool and everyone, especially the media, can’t get enough of them.
  2. More people have more time.

Found this article from a few months ago.

Out of Office: Job Loss in the Age of Blogs and Twitter - WSJ.com

People are escaping online in other ways too. On Monday, the popular celebrity gossip hound who goes by the name Perez Hilton said in a post on his Web site that January was his biggest month ever for traffic. “When times are tough, you turn to PerezHilton.com!” he wrote. Last week, the online movie rental service Netflix Inc. said its number of subscribers grew 26% over the holidays to 9.4 million, compared with 18% in the same period the year before.

The article talks mostly about casual Internet gaming (not the WoW crowd; the less geeky) and how this allows for escapism on the Internet. I know I’ve seen a lot of this with the recent raise in Facebook and Twitter users.

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In Good Company [2 Interviews]

In Good Company [2 Interviews]

I woke up this morning to a pleasant surprise. I was featured in 2 separate articles on social media.

One was actually re-purposed from a previous interview I had done with Lee Odden. This is a great post though it features 25 tips from a wide variety of thought leaders and practitioners.

23 Social Media Marketing Tips from Dell, Comcast, HP, Wells Fargo, Best Buy, General Mills, Ford, UPS, Home Depot, Cirque du Soleil | Online Marketing Blog

Our 25 contributors include: Charlene Li, Richard Binhammer, Chris Brogan, Katie Paine, Valeria Maltoni, Joseph Jaffe, Dave McClure, Tac Anderson, Brian Solis, Rohit Bhargava, Jim Cuene, Jason Falls, Michael Brito, Scott Monty, Gary Koelling, Jessica Berlin, Tim Collins, Dave Evans, Brian Clark, Debbie Curtis-Magley, Geoff Livingston, Frank Eliason, Lindsay LeBresco, Nick Ayres and Shonali Burke - an impressive mix of social media talent that we’ve interviewed in the past at Online Marketing Blog.

The second article was written by Zach Hagadone for the Idaho Business Review. Zach takes a look at the Domino’s disaster I blogged about previously and ties in current hype around Twitter. Zach get’s quotes from myself, Jen Harris, Steve Nipper, Brian Critchfield, Lindsay Dofelmier,

Business gets buzz online

“What would have happened if all Domino’s employees had, along with their OSHA training, received a half an hour of social media training?” he said, adding that few if any companies are even thinking about it.

“Best case scenario, they’re training their communications people. Maybe some of their PR people, maybe HR people; but they’re not pushing out to the broader population in-company,” he said. “Companies still have this siloed thinking that company communication only comes from the communications people. That’s just not the case anymore. … The Internet is not a back-channel. We’ve reached the point where whatever’s happening offline is also happening online. …

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Do social media professionals work harder than their peers?

Do social media professionals work harder than their peers?

Here’s some scary stats:

* 29% of employees are fully engaged with work
* 52% are not fully engaged
* 19% are disengaged

Cube farm workers

Len Kendal asked on Twitter “I wonder how much poor performance got disguised as “a result of the economy” this year?”

I wonder how much of that poor performance was because of the 71% of employees who were not fully engaged? Re-orgs and layoffs (or even the rumor of layoffs) have a crippling effect on employees. I would wager that the number of disengaged employees sky rockets during those times.  However I don’t think the number of fully engaged employees changes all that much. Why? Because those 29% are the ones that love their job. They love the work they are doing, they love where they work or, probably, both.

Justin Foster sent out this link via Twitter:

What Should I Do With My Life? | Fast Company

The previous era of business was defined by the question, Where’s the opportunity? I’m convinced that business success in the future starts with the question, What should I do with my life? Yes, that’s right. The most obvious and universal question on our plates as human beings is the most urgent and pragmatic approach to sustainable success in our organizations.

What would our economy be like if everyone loved what they did? That’s probably impossible since I doubt some people will never love any type of work but imagine if even the difference between fully engaged and partially engaged flipped. That would be huge.

I personally think that we have largely become a lazy nation. In just about every way. People don’t want to do more than they have to. People don’t want to do more than the other guy.

If people only understood how little extra effort it really takes to be a leader. Seriously even putting in a full 8 hours a day moves you to the top 29%.

I think that’s why I love social media professionals (not to be confused with some of the 71% that are killing time on social networks). The social media professionals I know regularly put in 15-20 hours a day of hard work. We love what we do. We work as hard as we do not because we have to, but because we get to. I don’t know if it’s a result of the industry we are in or a result of the people. I tend to think it’s the later. I think if social media didn’t exist, or when it’s really gone main stream and isn’t as exiting we’ll have move on to the next thing and be equally passionate about that.

Please note that A) I am seriously biased here and B) I am not saying there aren’t those among my peers that don’t work just as hard if nt harder than me. However in my experience there seems to be a larger amount of the 29% crowd in social media than there is in the more traditional areas of business.

What do you think? Do social media professional work harder than our peers? Do we do it because social media brings that out in people or because of the type of people we are? Or have I drank too much of my own punch?

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A Closer Look at HP’s Community Core Team

Now that I’m leaving HP, they are going to delete my neglected HP blog (unless I find someone at HP who wants to take it over). So there are a couple of posts I wanted to rescue from there and bring over here. Originally Published 8/5/08

A Closer Look at HP’s Community Core Team

Many of you have probably heard about the new book, Groundswell: Winning in a worldtransformed by social technologies.

The book was written by Forrester’s Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff and published by Harvard Business Press.  First off I have to say that it’s a great book and you should go get it.  Second I wanted to shed a little light on a portion of the book that has to do with HP.

Alison Watterson , who is mentioned in the book,   is  manager of Corporate Web communications and leads our corporate blogging initiatives.  Among her other duties she runs a group called the Community Core Team (of which I’m a member).

This group is fascinating to me for several reasons. First off it is one of very few truly cross organizational groups that is comprised of  people with Web marketing jobs throughout the company.  This means that everyone in the group participates in addition to our regular  job responsibilities .  Each of us is passionate about social media and often (but not always) are engaged in our individual business units online social activity.

The group is responsible for reviewing and approving new blogs (not individual blog posts just brand new blogs).  The group also tackles new developments in the social media space.

HP was an early adopter of corporate blogging and started having company blogs back in 2004. At last count we have 55 HP blog (hosted on HP’s platform), 12 employee business blogs (not hosted on HP’s platform but still about HP) ranging from printing, marketing, software development to corporate social responsibility, servers, photography and research.  We have individual bloggers, group and team blogs as well as non HP guest bloggers. You can see all of these listed on the right hand side of this page along with links to our various communities and HP employees personal interest blogs.

To me this represents the perfect mix of corporate structure and Web 2.0 openness.  We have a blogging code of conduct and Alison is there to fill in the gaps, but beyond that no one is there to watch over the bloggers shoulder. (With 67 blogs and even more bloggers that’d be a lot of shoulders to watch over.)

It’s a great group to be involved with and learn from as we are constantly re-evaluating what’s working, what’s not and how to address new developments as they arise.

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Using Social Networking Sites For Internal Communications

Now that I’m leaving HP, they are going to delete my neglected HP blog (unless I find someone at HP who wants to take it over). So there are a couple of posts I wanted to rescue from there and bring over here. Originally posted 7/29/08

Using Social Networking Sites For Internal Communications

HP Facebook employee targeted adThis a two in one blog post. The example I am about to share shows both the importance of allowing your employees access to social networking sites and it shows how social networks can be used for internal employee communications.

I have been a long term listener to Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson’s For Immediate Release podcast and a reoccurring theme on their podcast for years now is how social networks like Facebook could eventually replace/supplement corporate intranets.

While some smaller companies are able to experiment with this, I personally never foresee a time where large enterprises will scrap their intranets. However, I do see the need for enterprises to use social networks as a supplement to their employee communication.

HP has a program called HP Demo Days. The basic gist of the program is that twice a year (After Thanksgiving and Back to School) employees are encouraged to signup and go to local retail locations where they answer customer questions about HP products.

I think this is a great program for a few reasons:

A) It helps HP sell more product during key shopping seasons
B) More importantly it helps HP employees connect with real customers, not filtered through layers of research.

Don’t close yourself off to innovation

Jill Weeks is responsible for getting the word out about the program and getting people signed up.  Fortunately HP is not one of those companies that restrict Internet usage at work or blocks social networking sites.  After spending some time on Facebook Jill noticed how targeted the ads were that she was seeing.

It was these targeted ads that got Jill wondering just how specific you could get.  She contacted Facebook and found out that you could indeed get as specific as targeting people by their place of employment.

Internal communications from the outside in

One of the things that interested Jill in using Facebook is the rise in teleworkers.

“With so many people working remotely from home we’re seeing that employees are already using social networks to communicate with fellow employees.”

Facebook hadn’t tried this anything like this before and expressed some concern to Jill that they couldn’t guarantee who saw the ad.  Basically anyone in the US who puts down that they are currently an HP employee will see the ad. This was of little concern to Jill since the information being shared isn’t privileged and the landing page to the ad is a secured signup page.

Building on the campaign, building a community

When I first saw the ad, I contacted Jill about the program (honestly I kind of geeked out about it). I think it’s a great use case.  The only recommendation I had for Jill was to build a group page on Facebook and encourage employees to sign up and invite their fellow employees to join.

The results have been modest so far but so has the expense.  Facebook ads are cheep and are pay-per-click. The Facebook group was free and takes minimal time to set up.  The important thing to remember about social media is that the best results are usually realized after the first year.  It usually takes 6-12 months to gain traction and prove that this isn’t just a fly by night campaign.

It will be interesting to see the effects of these efforts with each new Demo Days. I’m willing to bet that each year gets progressively better, assuming that HP continues to invest the minimal time and budget into this.

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What can Alltop learn from PostRank?

Yesterday I saw this tweet from Guy Kawasaki’s Twitter account:


I can’t but help find this incredibly ironic.

Guy has admitted that the tweets sent from his account which are pointing to links are actually sent by ‘ghost twitterers’. This of course raised quite a bit of debate on the issue.

Back when Guy was building Truemors and spamming his followers with non stop links to the site I stopped following him. I started following him again after he sold the site. Since then he started building Alltop and is back to his old efforts. This time around is slightly better as his account doesn’t just link to Alltop it also links to other interesting articles.

I understand that Guy is cashing in on all the value he’s built around his brand and I don’t fault him for that. (The guys has done more for entrepreneurs than just about anyone.) I even like Alltop. However I think a better approach would be what PostRank is doing.

PostRank has multiple Twitter accounts set up by topic. I follow the @pr_entrepreneur and @pr_marketing @pr_web20.

Yes there is an @alltop and ironically there seems to be more conversation on that account than on Guy’s account. Of course it’s not him, despite the fact that the avatar has Guy in it. I would love to see separate Alltop accounts by topic.

This way I only get links to topics I’m most likely to be interested in. This way you’d also avoid the need for ghost twitterers and Guy would be able to keep his brand pure and not dilute it with all this other stuff.

That’s just my opinion on it.

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